Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
After nearly 14 years of health service delivery, Kakadu Health Service reaches the end of the road on 29 February 2012. The next day different service arrangements will be in place with the NT Department of Health taking over the main programs currently run by Kakadu Health.

In November 2011 after many months of negotiations, Djabulukgu Association felt it had no option but to let government know that it could not continue to operate Kakadu Health Service (KHS) with the available funds. The decision was a very difficult one as the Association has been providing quality health care to the residents of Kakadu and Gunbalanya since 1998.

There had been a long build-up to this point and the loss of GP funding was the last straw. Kakadu Health Service has been working under great pressure with inadequate funding for a long time. Through the commitment of staff and a degree of resourcefulness the health service not only survived but expanded service delivery and laid the foundations for regional reform over many years.

Options were put to government to maintain Kakadu Health Service under different auspice arrangements until the emerging Red Lily Health Board was ready to take over service delivery. However it has been decided that the NT Department of Health will take over most of the existing programs as the ‘transitionary’ service provider. At the beginning of March, current KHS staff will belong in one of three groups – those having resigned and left the region, others having accepted new employment with the Department of Health or those whose positions have been made redundant.

The Djabulukgu Association Chairperson, Mr Jonathon Nadji, says “I am sad that Kakadu Health Service has ended up this way. First we thought government was supporting keeping the health service operating under different arrangements. Then on 8 January this year we learnt that government was taking over at the end of February 2012. They would not reconsider this decision and look at other options. We said that not enough time was given for the transfer and wanted to do it over a longer period but they said it has to happen by 29 February. In the end we had no other option. I can’t understand what the rush is. Doing it quickly makes it hard for our staff and increases the chance of something going wrong. It is not very respectful way to end a service that has done a lot of good things for the region.”

On the issue of regional health reform, Mr Nadji says “Djabulukgu Association wishes the Red Lily Health Board all the best for the future and it is disappointing that we are not handing services over to them directly. I hope that control comes back to the region again. Government should look very carefully look at the way things were handled in West Arnhem and learn from the experience.”

In closing Mr Nadji provides the following words, “Kakadu Health Service has done great work over a long time providing both good quality services and a voice for the region. Without our efforts in the early years Red Lily Health Board would never have had the opportunity to form. I would particularly like to thank the health service executive officer, David Scholz, for his commitment, hard work and getting results over a long period of time. Much has been achieved within the health service. Also the Association appreciates all the other great staff we have had over the 14 years, and I am sorry not all of our current people are staying in West Arnhem.”

How will things work out from here? Only time will tell.

For further information please contact, Kakadu Health Service on 08 8979 9999

Contact Profile

Djabulukgu Association - Kakadu Health Service

Kakadu Health Service is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service that has been providing a wide range of primary health care serives in the Kakadu / West Arnhem region since 1998.

It is a strong advocate of health service reform and has built the base for a future regional health board in the West Arnhem region.

David Scholz
P: 08 8979 9999


Kakadu Aboriginal Health Funding Government Takeover



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